Unnatural Causes

My name is Brown. Gideon Brown. I could tell you that my friends call me Gid, or Giddy, or some other such nonsense, but that would be a lie. And while I have no hesitation when it comes to lying, I have already promised myself that I will do my best to recount my experiences as truthfully as possible. The truth is that I don't have any friends. I have acquaintances, associates, accomplices, and even a couple of "buddies", to be polite, but I have no friends. Friends are a liability in my chosen profession.

What, you might ask, is my profession? It has many names, all of which continually come and go in the slang circles; cleaner; hit man; muscle; equalizer. Which ever term is currently the "in" phrase, it all boils down to the same thing; assassin.

Usually, the intended victim is someone that deserves to die but who has somehow managed to "dodge the bullet" any number of times. It could be that the mark is unnaturally lucky; intelligent; paranoid; or has employed an excellent security firm. It could also be a combination of two or more of these possibilities, but none of them make a person completely invulnerable.

It also helps that I have an advantage that most the world fails to recognize; I am a sorcerer. Mage, warlock, magic user, spell caster; take your pick. I know how to wield the powers of true magik, and I use them to kill. This has, of course, made me unpopular with the Wizards Council, and other such forms of government that operate from within the Nether, but as long as I stay out of their affairs they leave me mostly alone.

Or so I had thought.

Three nights ago a seven foot tall Golem made of pure bronze had come crashing through my side door, intent on rendering me into a lifeless pile of crushed and burnt flesh. Fortunately, for me, not the Golem, I had a tank of liquid nitrogen still setting in my lab, left over from a contract that I had carried out in the Artic.

I should take a moment to point out that I strive to make my contracts appear completely natural.

To continue, the Golem had broken into my basement apartment, no small feat considering the wards that I had around the place, and immediately went about demolishing everything in its path as it searched for me.

Actually, apartment might not be the proper term, even though that's how it's listed on my lease. Apartment brings to mind a collection of rooms, all small and closely spaced. My living area is, to be precise, the entire basement level of the building, consisting of my own garage, a private swimming pool and spa, a gym, and a dozen other rooms, not counting my lab and shooting range. There are only four entrances to my domicile; either through the garage, and its inches thick iron door; the elevator, which requires a pass-key or an invitation; the emergency stair-well, which I had filled in with concrete three years ago and loaded with a confusion spell, insuring no one would give a second thought to the fact that it did not continue downward; or through the none-descript oak and iron door that exits into a thin, trash-laden alley and which is hidden by three illusion spells.

The fact that the Golem found the door is the first indication that its creator is someone very knowledgably in magik. The fact that he was able to smash down the door was the second indication of the force that was intending me harm. Between the iron, the oak, and the protection spells that I had on the door, it would have taken old Merlin himself a few minutes to break through the door. The Golem managed to crash through it almost instantly.

Golems are very brute-force type creations, following basic directions with a viscous tenacity unless under direct control of their creator. Directing a Golem through a binding spell makes it a force to be reckoned with, but that very same connection leaves the controller vulnerable to the affects of any damage done to the Golem. Being bound to a Golem when it's destroyed can leave the controller resembling something like a lump of broccoli in a human body.

Not many magik users are willing to bind to a Golem, no matter how confident they are in their victory, and that was evidently true of this one as it simply ripped apart or smashed open anything in the garage in which I could possibly be.

Another drawback to using a Golem is how much noise they make once they begin carrying out their task. The cacophony of destruction that it was reeking through my garage drew me from my lab to find out what was transpiring.

My spying of the scene, through a barely opened door that led from my lab to the garage, did not go unnoticed by the Golem. If you've ever seen 'Jason and the Argonauts'-the original, Ray Harryhausen version, not some CGI remake-then you recall the grating metal sound that Talos made as his giant metal form pursued the Argonauts. That was exactly the same sound that the Golem made as his head twisted about to look directly at me, its eyes blazing red.

I watched, for a moment, in fascination, as it turned and stalked towards my location, his footfalls leaving spider-web fractures in the concrete floor of the garage. It had only taken three powerful strides when my sense of self-preservation kicked in and I slammed the door shut, heedless of the fact that two inches of wood would do nothing to impede its progress.

Scouring my lab for a heavy-duty weapon that I could use against the Golem, and which wouldn't bring half the building down on me, I spotted the four foot tall tank of liquid nitrogen, still strapped to a dolly, and a sudden, if somewhat risky, idea sprang into my mind.

I ran to the dolly, certain that the I could feel the floor trembling with every step that the Golem took, and maneuvered it around to face the door then laid it down with more than a grunt of effort. With the tank settled on the floor, aiming towards the door with less than mathematical precision, I removed my wand from its nearly invisible sheath at my side and held it ready.

The thudding of the Golem's footsteps ended as it halted before my lab, its shadow thick at the base of the door, and I took advantage of its hesitation to launch my rushed scheme.

"In flatus," I commanded, pointing my wand at the valve of the tank. A blast of energy lanced from the wand, destroying the valve and releasing the compressed gas, effectively turning the tank into a land-based torpedo.

"Excito," was my second spell, and the cylinder rose into the air as it rocketed towards the door, the tremendous whooshing sound that it was making propelling the Golem back into action, the creature smashing through the door just in time for the tank to smash directly into its chest.

"Cataract a," provoked a deluge of water, as if a waterfall were dispensing into my garage from some other realm. "Magus contendo," unleashed a focused blast of magikal energy that ruptured the tank, and "Congelo" aided the liquid nitrogen in freezing the entire turmoil of water in an instant.

Severing the power that I was channeling into the cataract a spell, the waterfall dispersed, leaving a baby iceberg in my garage, with the Golem frozen at its center. The sparkling clear composition of the ice allowed me to see that it was already beginning to melt from within, a bubbling and boiling pool of water circling the Golem.

This Golem was no mere pile of animated material. It had been given a life of its own, with molten lava as its blood. It was a volcano on two legs, and it was going to take a lot more than a little liquid nitrogen to quell its fury.

"Gelus. Glacies tempestuous. Ventus."

I drew in all of the magikal energy that I could and focused it all into the three spells, the results almost instantaneous. A gale-force wind whipped through the garage, nearly knocking me off of my feet, shards and pellets of ice flinging madly through it. First frost, then ice, began covering everything, myself included, and the temperature was certainly many degrees below zero.

The Golem continued to inch its way through the ice, the heat radiating from its form slowly melting the ice around it, and I poured more of myself into the spells, dropping to my knees as I fought to focus the energies directly at the massive cube.

The numerous lacerations that I had received from the ice storm could no longer be felt, and darkness was swimming at the edge of my peripheral vision. With numbness settling through out my body, my mind finely registered the fact that the water within the block of ice was no longer bubbling and churning, that it was in fact beginning to solidify.

The Golem's eyes, once a bright, burning red, peered at me with a fading hatred that finally dulled to the same bronze sheen as the rest of its form. My satisfaction at having finally halted the creature faded away with the darkness that finally engulfed my vision as my senses shut down.

Destroying the Golem had nearly cost me my own life. Luckily, weather spells last only as long as the caster is maintaining them. As soon as I passed out, my spells dissipated, allowing the ice to quickly melt away. The sloshing water was enough to revive me, along with the fact that despite the August heat outside, my thermostat had naturally kicked my furnace into overdrive, delivering welcomed warmth.

As I groggily looked about my ruined garage, my first thought was how I was going to explained the thousands of dollars of water damage to my insurance agent. My second thought was where to start looking for the son of a bitch that had sent the Golem after me in the first place.